How Fast Do Airplanes Take Off? - FLYING Magazine (2023)

Calculating a precise speed at which an aircraft takes off depends on the current weather conditions and each airplane’s specific aerodynamic design characteristics. Key factors that affect airplane takeoff speed (sometimes referred to as its rotation speed) include: direction of airflow, the airplane’s shape (especially its wings), the airplane’s size, and its weight. Infinite combinations of aerodynamic and environmental factors can impact the required speed for any airplane to take off.

This is why every type of airplane has a different takeoff speed. Let’s take a closer look at a few important details that affect how fast airplanes take off.

Pass the Test. Take to the Skies

Easily become an airplane or commercial pilot online! Courses designed by industry experts can help you pass FAA tests and get into the sky!

(Video) TAKE-OFF Speeds V1, Vr, V2! Explained by "CAPTAIN" Joe

Enroll Now


(Video) Flying an aeroplane and how | Brainfeed Magazine

What Is Lift?

Lift is an upward force created when air flows over and under an airplane’s wings. During takeoff, if the speed and direction of the airflow around the wings generates enough lift to offset the weight of the airplane, it becomes airborne and takes off. This is why achieving the correct speed is so critical during takeoff. The amount of lift generated is a function of airspeed, and without lift, flight is impossible.

Takeoff Speeds

Takeoff speeds for each airplane vary with the airplane’s size, wing shape and size, the airplane’s weight, and many other factors, including weather conditions. When aircraft manufacturers develop, test, and get regulatory certification for each new type of airplane, an optimum set of specifications is published, including requirements for speed during takeoff. Here are a few examples of takeoff speed specifications for some widely known types of airplanes.

Boeing 747

A typical takeoff or rotation speed of a Boeing 747-400 model—which was the biggest selling of the 747 variants—is around 160 knots. The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, the most recent 747 passenger variant, has a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.86 whileflying at an altitudeof 35,000 feet, according to Boeing.

Beechcraft Super King Air

The Beechcraft Super King Air is a family of popular twin turboprop airplanes—including models 200, 300, and 350—seating up to 11 passengers. In 1996, the manufacturer stopped using the “Super” brand name. A typical minimum rotation or takeoff speed with a full fuel tank and two passengers is around 104 knots. Cruise speed ranges between 228 and 359 knots.

Cessna 172

Since the first Cessna 172 rolled off the production line in 1956, more than 45,000 have been manufactured, making it the most popular airplane in the world. According to its pilot operating handbook, the Cessna 172’s normal rotation or takeoff speed is about 55 knots indicated airspeed (kias) and its maximum cruise speed is 124 knots.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

With a top speed above Mach 2—twice the speed of sound—the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is the fastest fighter jet in the U.S. Air Force. The F-15 is propelled by two powerful turbofan engines. It has shoulder-mounted wings and twin vertical stabilizers. The minimum rotation or takeoff speed for the F-15 ranges between 120 and 150 knots, depending on the aircraft’s configuration. The cruise speed of an F-15 is 495 knots.Pterodactyl Ascender (Ultralight)

The Pterodactyl Ascender is a family of very small, ultralight, single-engine, single-seat aircraft developed in the 1970s. Outfitted with a Dacron sailcloth wing and a forward canard, the Pterodactyl Ascender’s small two-cylinder engine drives a rear-mounted propeller that pushes the airplane forward. Its minimum takeoff speed is about 20 mph and its cruising speed is around 45 mph.

What Affects Aircraft Takeoff Speed

When trying to determine the ideal speed for a takeoff roll on a runway, there is no magic number that all aircraft must reach to successfully take off. The speed required for an airplane to take off depends on an infinite number of factors, including the currentweather during takeoff, the airplane’s weight, the configuration of the airplane, the specific wing design, and the positioning of the flaps and other flight- control surfaces. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors that affect aircraft rotation or takeoff speed.


Weight is one of the most critical factors on any aircraft. The heavier an aircraft is, the more lift is required for it to get airborne. Airplanes designed to fly heavy payloads often have wings designed for high-lift, along with powerful engines that can achieve rotation or takeoff speeds sufficient to generate enough airflow across the wings.

(Video) Stall to Spin Recovery


Airplanes can be outfitted with various optional equipment, depending on the mission. For passenger aircraft, this might be an additional seating capacity. For military aircraft, it might be weapons or defensive systems, or additional fuel tanks. For longer missions, an airplane might be fully loaded with fuel. Changing configurations can add weight to an airplane and sometimes change its aerodynamics. A pilot will consider these variables when choosing the proper speed for takeoff.

Wing Design

Airplane wings are designed to include aerodynamic devices that pilots can manipulate to increase lift during critical phases of flight—such astakeoffs and landings. These devices—including flaps, slots, and slats—can mitigate the effects of additional weight, insufficient airflow,crosswinds, and other factors that may reduce lift. Some airplane wings are specifically designed to generate maximum lift. High-lift wings are generally longer and wider because allowing more airflow over a wing can increase lift. High-lift wings tend to reduce the takeoff speed required to get airborne.

Wind Direction and Density Altitude

Lift requires proper airflow over and under an airplane’s wings. Optimum airflow is parallel to the direction of the runway so the airplane is pointing into the wind. But sometimes nature has other plans. A slight crosswind might require a slightly higher speed to achieve lift during takeoff. Other weather conditions such as high temperatures could affect the density altitude during your takeoff.Density altitudeis defined as pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature variations. Its effects on an airplane are exacerbated during takeoffs and landings at airports located at higher altitudes. For example, a rotation or takeoff speed in Denver, Colorado, on a hot day will have to be higher than on a cold day at a lower altitude airport.

What is STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing)?

STOL (short takeoff and landing) airplanes are designed to take off at very slow speeds on short runways. STOL airplanes are useful for bush pilots who fly in remote areas where improved airports with longer, paved runways are not as common.

STOL airplanes are also suited for taking off and landing in small urban airports with shorter runways surrounded by tall buildings and other obstacles.

These airplanes fly at very slow speeds with the help of large wings that are capable of creating large amounts of lift. The wings often include specially designed flaps and slots.

What Is Assisted Takeoff?

Assisted takeoff is a system that provides an aircraft with speed and momentum during takeoff. Assisted takeoff systems include tow lines attached to powered aircraft—such as those used for glider airplane takeoffs, catapults—–such as those used to assist airplanes taking off from Navy aircraft carriers, and jet- and rocket-assisted takeoff (JATO, RATO) systems.

Assisted takeoff systems are required for airplanes that cannot produce enough takeoff speed to get airborne due to short runway length or—–in the case of gliders—–because they don’t have independent propulsion systems such as engines or electric motors.

Takeoff Speeds Aren’t One Size Fits All

Every type of airplane is different and every airplane has different takeoffspeedsunder various conditions and scenarios. Airplane takeoff speeds for each type depend on multiple changing factors, including weight, wing configuration, weather, and the altitude of the airport. To learn more about airplane takeoff speeds and all things aviation, subscribe toFLYINGMagazine.

(Video) Video Longest Takeoff Run ... Ever Flying Magazine


How Fast Do Airplanes Go?

A piloted airplane’s speed typically depends on its size and mission. Passenger and cargo airplanes tend to fly slower than military jets. Jets tend to fly faster than propeller or turboprop airplanes. Small, single-propeller, four-seater airplanes typically cruise around 125 knots, while the faster military jets can reach speeds in excess of six times the speed of sound. The world’s fastest piloted airplane—the rocket-propelled, experimental North American X-15— flew 4,520 mph in 1967, according to NASA.

How Fast Does a 747 Go To Take Off?

A typical takeoff speed for a Boeing 747 is around 160 knots (184 mph), depending on the jet’s wing flap configuration, the number of passengers aboard, and the weight of their luggage, fuel load, current weather conditions, and other factors.

How Fast Do Airplanes Fly When Landing?

(Video) Sporty's: Normal Takeoff - Flying Magazine

Just as rotation or takeoff speeds depend on many factors, so do typical speeds during landing approach. Ideal landing speeds are determined by an airplane’s weight, wing flap configuration, wind speed, and other variables. Although it varies due to multiple factors, a typical landing speed for a Boeing 747 is around 150 kias, while a typical landing speed for a much smaller and lighter Cessna 172 would be 60 to 70 kias with flaps at 30 percent, according to the pilot operating handbook.


How Fast Do Airplanes Take Off? - FLYING Magazine? ›

Small, single-propeller, four-seater airplanes typically cruise around 125 knots, while the faster military jets can reach speeds in excess of six times the speed of sound. The world's fastest piloted airplane—the rocket-propelled, experimental North American X-15— flew 4,520 mph in 1967, according to NASA.

At what speed do planes usually take off? ›

Typical takeoff air speeds for jetliners are in the range of 240–285 km/h (130–154 kn; 149–177 mph). Light aircraft, such as a Cessna 150, take off at around 100 km/h (54 kn; 62 mph). Ultralights have even lower takeoff speeds.

What is the speed of a plane in 1 hour? ›

Hence, the usual speed of aeroplane is 300 km/hr.

What is the takeoff speed of a 737? ›

With a takeoff speed of roughly 150-180 mph, Delta's Boeing 737-700 fleet needs only a fraction of a typical runway's 10,000-ft length. Sara Valentini and 487 others like this.

How fast do planes accelerate on the runway? ›

Planes accelerate between 115 mph and 160 mph (185 km/h – 257 km/h or 100 -140 knots) on the runway. But, the exact acceleration depends on the plane's model, outside temperature, and other factors. Generally speaking, commercial planes require the most acceleration to take off, while small planes require the least.

Can planes take off in 45 mph winds? ›

While high winds (a crosswind above 40 mph and a tailwind above 10 mph) can occasionally prevent planes from taking off or landing on time, winds won't put your flight in any danger.

Will planes take off in 30 mph winds? ›

There is no single maximum wind limit as it depends on the direction of wind and phase of flight. A crosswind above about 40mph and tailwind above 10mph can start to cause problems and stop commercial jets taking off and landing. It can sometimes be too windy to take-off or land.

How fast does a 747 go to take off? ›

How Fast Does a 747 Go To Take Off? A typical takeoff speed for a Boeing 747 is around 160 knots (184 mph), depending on the jet's wing flap configuration, the number of passengers aboard, and the weight of their luggage, fuel load, current weather conditions, and other factors.

Why do planes speed up before landing? ›

As the plane descends into ground effect, it may actually accelerate if the engines are producing enough thrust, since in ground effect the plane requires much less power to keep "flying". Power from the engines will translate into speed, if not height.

How high do planes fly? ›

But how many of us have stopped to ask ourselves how high do planes fly? According to USA Today, the common cruising altitude for most commercial airplanes is between 33,000 and 42,000 feet, or between about six and nearly eight miles above sea level. Typically, aircraft fly around 35,000 or 36,000 feet in the air.

Why do planes turn right after takeoff? ›

Airplanes may begin turning immediately after takeoff to reduce noise over urban areas, to avoid high terrain and storm cells, at the request of air traffic control, or to turn & get established on course as soon as possible. Most busy airports will have departure routes to help with traffic flow.

Is a 737 or 747 faster? ›

The 747 has a range of 15,000 km (9350 mi) which is nearly halfway round the world. This aircraft allows airlines to reach distant airports in one flight. The 747 can cruise around 50 mph faster than the 737.

How fast is a 737 plane going when it lands? ›

It uses the GPS and the Inertial to give an accurate ground speed in knots. Depending on several issues such as landing weight, aircraft configuration, crosswind, gust, etc., the actual touchdown airspeed could be approximately 135 knots.

Do planes fly at full speed? ›

For the typical single-engine plane, you'll be able to fly around 140 mph (122 knots). However, some of the more advance single-engine airplanes, like the Pilatus PC-12 NGX, have a top speed of 334 mph (290 knots).

What is the fear of flight called? ›

Aerophobia is a fear of flying. It's very common, affecting more than 25 million adults in the U.S. Psychotherapy can usually help people overcome their fear and fly without extreme anxiety or panic attacks. Appointments 866.588.2264. Request an Appointment.

What is the top speed of a passenger plane? ›

The top speed for commercial planes is generally around Mach 0.85, which is about 650 miles per hour.

Can planes fly in heavy rain? ›

Modern aircraft can generate lift regardless of the heaviness of the rain. Planes can and will take off and land in the rain. The only real problem with heavy rainfall is the decrease in visibility for the pilots.

Can planes fly over a hurricane? ›

While modern aircraft are capable of flying over, or even through, hurricanes, safety risks remain, and carriers usually halt operations are the affected airports instead.

Is it safe to fly in rain? ›

Yes, planes can fly in rain. Nowadays, airplanes are designed to fly in most weather conditions, even heavy rain. Even small planes can comfortably fly in heavy rain. Rain only becomes a threat when associated with other weather conditions, such as snow, thunderstorms, or ice.

What weather will cancel a flight? ›

Crosswinds greater than 50-60 km/h may cause airlines to delay or cancel flights. Even lower gusts can trigger flight delays or cancellations if the runways are wet or icy, as stiff winds can reduce a plane's ability to brake on the runway.

Do planes fly in snow? ›

Just because there is winter weather outside, it doesn't mean that planes will suddenly stop flying. As we've discussed above, snow, ice, and bad weather do not hinder a flight. It remains safe to fly as long as precautious and pilot training are both up to date.

Can planes fly in 20 mile an hour winds? ›

With reasonable proficiency, most private pilots can handle surface winds of up to about 20 miles per hour. However, the direction makes a lot of difference, and flight instructors find that one of the most difficult lessons to teach is crosswind landings.

How far can a fully loaded 747 fly? ›

Its range has increased from 5,300 nautical miles (9,800 km) on the -100 to 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) on the -8I.

How far can a fully loaded 747 takeoff? ›

The approx. 10,700 feet Wikipedia figure is for a fully loaded 747 at sea-level. The lighter the plane, the less runway it needs.

How long does takeoff last? ›

For a typical commercial jet, takeoff lasts only 30 to 35 seconds. If an engine fails or the landing gear jams, the pilot has almost no time at all to decide whether to take off anyway or to try and wrestle a 175,000-pound metal beast to the ground. Rejected takeoffs are rare.

Why do planes dump fuel before landing? ›

Why dump fuel? The reason to dump fuel is simple: to drop weight. Any given aircraft has a Maximum Landing Weight (MLW) at which it can land, and in most cases that weight is lower than its Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW).

Why do planes fly higher at night? ›

As daylight heating gives way to nighttime cooling, the air generally becomes smoother and convective weather dissipates, providing a better ride for passengers and less work for pilots.

Why do planes shake so much when landing? ›

What is Turbulence? The disruption in the air current which helps a plane to fly results in shakes and it is referred to as turbulence. Also known as air pockets, turbulence can cause a sudden loss of altitude temporarily.

Why do planes stop in mid air? ›

Airplanes stay in the air because of one simple fact-- there is no net force on them. And with no net force, an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays that way, even if it's in midair 10 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

What do pilots see when flying? ›

Pilots have a unique viewpoint while flying private or commercial aircraft. They get an unobstructed view of stunning natural sights, such as pink lakes and rectangular-shaped icebergs. Some have reported seeing UFOs, while others have flown over swirling hurricanes.

Why do planes fly at 36000 feet? ›

After labor, fuel is the greatest expense for airlines. That's why airlines are constantly working to maximize their fuel efficiency. Cruising at 36,000 feet helps with that. The higher altitude means thinner air.

What is the sinking feeling after takeoff? ›

Answer: The sensation of slowing down is really one of slowing the rate of acceleration; this is due to reducing the thrust after takeoff to the climb setting. The sensation of “dropping” comes from the retraction of the flaps and slats. The rate of climb is reduced, causing it to feel like a descent.

What do pilots say when taking off? ›

Welcome – Long flight

Welcome on board (flight reference). This is Captain / Co-pilot (your name) speaking and I have some information about our flight. Our flight time today will be (flight duration) and our estimated time of arrival in (destination) is (ETA)local time.

Why do planes bank left after takeoff? ›

During takeoff, air accelerated behind the prop (known as the slipstream) follows a corkscrew pattern. As it wraps itself around the fuselage of your plane, it hits the left side of your aircraft's tail, creating a yawing motion, and making the aircraft yaw left.

Do pilots prefer Boeing or Airbus? ›

Do pilots prefer Boeing or Airbus? Pilots will always differ in opinion. The general feeling is that Airbus aircraft on the narrowbodies (A320 etc) are slightly more comfortable in terms of space in the flight deck than a 737 for example.

What is the ceiling altitude of a 747? ›

Boeing widebodies

The German flag carrier also flies the modern 747-8, which has a service ceiling of 43,100 ft (13,137 m).

Does a private jet go faster than a plane? ›

Private aircraft can travel faster than commercial airliners. Part of this has to do with the weight of the jet itself. Private jets weigh less than large commercial aircraft, allowing them to ascend and descend faster than commercial jet.

What speed do aircraft taxi at? ›

When taxiing, aircraft travel slowly. This ensures that they can be stopped quickly and do not risk wheel damage on larger aircraft if they accidentally turn off the paved surface. Taxi speeds are typically 16 to 19 kn (30 to 35 km/h; 18 to 22 mph).

What is the taxi speed of a 737? ›

Idle thrust is adequate for taxiing under most conditions, but you'll need a slightly higher thrust setting to get the aircraft rolling. Allow time for a response after each thrust change before changing the thrust setting again. Normal straight taxi speed should not exceed 20 knots (10 knots in turns).

How far is the landing distance of a 737 airplane? ›

4700 ft

Are pilots allowed to fly faster? ›

A pilot would not get pulled over, of course. But speeding is considered a serious violation of aviation regulations (unless there's an emergency in-flight).

Do planes fly faster at night? ›

At night, there's usually fewer flights and fewer passengers, so you can definitely expect faster movements on all lines. If you dislike weaving in and out through crowds, this is one of the best times to fly.

Do planes fly slower to save fuel? ›

One of the primary reasons for the reduction in flight speed is fuel efficiency. As the cost of aviation fuel has risen over the years, airlines have sought ways to minimize fuel consumption, and flying at slower speeds has proven to be an effective method.

What is the best sedative for flying? ›

People often come to us requesting the doctor or nurse to prescribe diazepam for fear of flying or assist with sleep during flights. Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you sleepy and more relaxed.

How many plane crashes a year? ›

Key Takeaways. Flying is still considered to be the safest way to travel, but accidents can happen. Roughly, there are between 70-90 plane crashes per year worldwide, including both commercial planes and privately-owned ones.

What is the fear of men called? ›

What is androphobia? People who have androphobia have a fear of men. Phobia means fear, and “andros” is the Greek word for man. A person with androphobia experiences extreme anxiety or fear of men.

What is the slowest passenger plane? ›

The MacCready Gossamer Condor is a human-powered aircraft capable of flight as slow as 8 miles per hour (13 km/h).

Which is the fastest airline in the world? ›

Concorde. The Concorde was a supersonic jet that could fly at speeds of up to 1,354 mph (2,179 km/h), making it the fastest commercial airliner ever built.

Can a plane fly at 300 mph? ›

A jet airliner flies at 300 mph for the first half hour and last half hour of a flight. The rest of the time it flies at 600 mph.

How fast does a 747 have to go to take off? ›

How Fast Does a 747 Go To Take Off? A typical takeoff speed for a Boeing 747 is around 160 knots (184 mph), depending on the jet's wing flap configuration, the number of passengers aboard, and the weight of their luggage, fuel load, current weather conditions, and other factors.

At what speed do most planes land? ›

Landing. While landing, speed is largely affected by the aircrafts current weight, commercial airplanes typically land between 130 and 160 mph (112 to 156 knots).

How much speed does a 747 take off? ›

A Boeing 747 under standard conditions must be going 296kph (184 mph) to take off. Additionally, weather factors can affect the ground speed need for takeoff. For example, a headwind will reduce the ground speed needed.

How fast is a 747 going when it lands? ›

A 747 'Jumbo Jet' would typically land at a speed of about 145kts-150kts (166mph-172mph), depending on the landing flap setting selected.

How fast does a fighter jet have to go to take off? ›

During the takeoff of a fighter jet from the horizontal runway of an aircraft carrier, the jet attains a speed v = 72.7 m / s as its rolls a distance d = 86.4 m just before it leaves the deck.

Do planes use full throttle on takeoff? ›

Answer: Most takeoffs use "derated" thrust to save engine wear. For each takeoff, performance is calculated, the necessary power setting is determined and the thrust setting is made.

Why do pilots say heavy? ›

Wake turbulence poses a major risk to other aircraft, so pilots and ATC use the term “heavy” in radio transmissions as a reminder that the aircraft's wake may be dangerous to others passing behind or below the flightpath of these larger-mass aircraft.

Do planes fly faster higher or lower? ›

Generally speaking, flying at higher altitudes means higher airspeed because of less drag. Of course, the type of aircraft you are flying will come into play as you work with flying at different altitudes, as will the amount of weight you are carrying.

Why do pilots land hard? ›

Hard landings can be caused by weather conditions, mechanical problems, overweight aircraft, pilot decision and/or pilot error. The term hard landing usually implies that the pilot still has total or partial control over the aircraft, as opposed to an uncontrolled descent into terrain (a crash).

What is the highest altitude a plane can fly? ›

The maximum height that a commercial airplane is allowed to reach when they fly is 42,000 feet, as this is the universally approved maximum altitude. This max altitude for airplanes is known as the “service ceiling.” Most commercial air jets fly at such a high altitude because it is known to optimize efficiency.

What slows a plane down when landing? ›

When landing, however, pilots may use the reverse thrust feature. Reverse thrust changes the direction of the engines' thrust. Rather than projecting out the rear, the thrust will be projected out the front. This reversal of thrust provides deceleration that allows airplanes to slow down more quickly when landing.

Why do pilots say rotate when taking off? ›

During the takeoff roll, the pilot monitoring the displays (PM) will call out the two important speeds: V1 and rotate. This indicates to the pilot flying the aircraft (PF) when they are beyond the safe stopping speed and when to rotate the aircraft into the air.

How does a plane stop after landing? ›

Larger turboprop aircraft have propellers that can be adjusted to produce rearward thrust after touchdown, rapidly slowing the aircraft. Commercial jet transport aircraft come to a halt through a combination of brakes, spoilers to increase wing drag and thrust reversers on the engines.


1. Why Plane Tires Don't Explode On Landing
(Insider Tech)
2. Magnetos | 60 Second Flight Training
(Thrust Flight Academy)
3. Aviation Animation - Normal Takeoff and Climb
(Robert Bremmer)
4. Why All Planes Take This Overcrowded Path Across The Atlantic Ocean - Cheddar Explains
5. The Intricate Skill That Goes Into Landing a Fighter Jet
(Smithsonian Channel)
6. British Airways - Building the 787-9 Dreamliner
(British Airways)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated: 10/01/2023

Views: 6083

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.